By Christian Benard

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a new project to generate data on forest emissions.

The new USD 1 million funded project will improve the ability of countries to access climate financing options to mitigate the effects of climate crisis and preserve ecosystem services for communities.

The project titled Improving Measurement for Payments to Reduce Emissions and Strengthen Sinks (IMPRESS), will be implemented in Kenya to enhance the country’s capacity to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from forest sector and absorb CO₂ from atmosphere through forest restoration.

The project will generate pioneering experience, knowledge sharing packages for other countries globally and access to climate finance.

“Climate action requires robust forests data that can support formulation and monitoring of forest-related policies, help track progress towards sustainable forests management and reduce emissions related to forest loss,” Said Carla Mucavi, FAO representative to Kenya.

“We are excited that Kenya was selected for implementing these forest data improvements for RBP compliance, setting a benchmark for replication in other countries.”

Managing forests carbon stocks is a critical component to keeping the rise in global temperature below 2°C because deforestation and forest degradation especially in tropics are responsible for about 11% of Global Greenhouse (GHG) emissions.

In a bid to harness the potential of forests and land use, numerous initiatives have been put forth. These concerns about climate change have further led to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

To step up the efforts of this project, countries are undertaking strides to strengthen their forest monitoring systems to meet enhanced technical requirements of new carbon standards and opening access to carbon finance. These include halting deforestation and forest degradation, developing forests-positive policies and actions that are non-carbon e.g. food security & enhanced biodiversity and restoring the ecosystem.

Food and Agriculture Organization work on natural forests monitoring is driven by innovation, capacity development and partnership.

“To comply with carbon standards that are often more demanding than UNFCCC modalities, countries will need robust, transparent and high quality data on forests cover and use,” Said Astrid Agostini, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) /National Forests Monitoring (NFM) cluster coordinator at FAO Forestry Division.

“Such data can inform effective policies and investments as well as unlock new climate finance to protect and enhance these precious ecosystems.”

Kenya’s National Forest Monitoring Systems (NFMs) has been able to assist in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in her more than 3.5 hectares of forests. In collaboration with the Kenya Forests Service, the initiative will enhance quality of the country’s data and information as well as craft an approach for monitoring carbon removals from forest restoration.

Through outreach, the application in Kenya allows other countries to have a better chance of accessing results-based payments for REDD+ including through provision of high-integrity carbon credits to attract climate finance.

“With more than 50 years’ experience in supporting countries in their forest monitoring efforts and with a variety of innovative forest and land monitoring platforms, FAO is pleased to drive innovation towards high-integrity forest data through the IMPRESS project, and looks forward to working closely with Kenya and UK-PACT in demonstrating the approach,” Said Julian Fox, the team leader of FAO’s National Forest Monitoring Team.

These data will enable Kenya to report on its actions to halt and reverse forest loss as part of its ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution to tackling climate change.